O.B. sunglass manufacturer wins $63K AL. Launchpad grant
By Fran Thompson
Maho Shades of Orange Beach, one of three Alabama companies to receive money in the recent Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition, will use its $63,000 grant to begin producing custom sunglasses in Orange Beach, according to Kris Anderson, who started the company in January of 2016 with his wife Alex (pictured).
A native of Arizona, Kris met Alex on the quad before an Alabama football game while he was attending law school in T-Town, where Alex was an undergrad majoring in interior design.
Maho was born when both Andersons lost expensive shades while paddleboarding in Maho Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Frustrated with the exorbitant cost ($450) to replace them, the couple decided to design high end, hand crafted sunglasses that they could sell at a reasonable price to customers online.
“We decided enough was enough,’’ Kris said. “We wanted to come up with something so you would not kick yourself quite so hard when they hit the ocean.’’
Using sources in Italy, China and Japan to manufacture frames, Maho also uses the world’s lightest and strongest polarized polyamide nylon lenses. The Andersons sell their shades for as little as $95. And in addition to online sales, they are now available in 70 retailers around the country.
Next for the Andersons is selling truly custom made sunglasses that will they can deliver in anywhere from two days to two weeks. “I think we are the only company doing that,’’ Kris said.
To that end, the Andersons will use its $63K Launchpad grant to establish a facility to create custom-fit sunglasses and eyeglasses here in Orange Beach.
“We will use 3D scan data to customize CAD models of frames to fit a customer’s face perfectly, and then produce a frame out of ultra high-quality materials like carbon fiber,’’ Kris said.
Anderson said he routinely hears customers tell him his company’s sunglasses are the best they’ve ever owned.
Adventurers at heart, the Andersons have visited 30 countries and name their sunglass styles after beautiful places they’ve visited (Arapahoe, Cabo, Buenos Aires, Capetown, Charleston, Madrid, Mandalay).
Married for four years, the couple has an eight month old son (Whit). “We love being here at the beach,’’ Kris said. “This is a great place to be to expand our business.’’
Maho Shades also donates one percent of its sales to non-profits devoted to conserving natural places and habitats around the USA. For more info about the company, visit mahoshades.com